Ornate Horned Frog (Ceratophrys ornata)

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Ornate Horned Frog
Ceratophrys ornata
Ornate Horned Frog (Ceratophrys ornata)
Name Ornate Horned Frog
Name Lat. Ceratophrys ornata
Family Ceratophryds
Family lat. Ceratophryidae
Order Frogs & Toads
Order lat. Anura
Origin South America
Habitat Forest, shrubland
Diet Carnivore
Humidity 60-80 %
Behavior Predatory
Keeping Individual
Care Level Moderate
Breeding Difficult
Housing Humid terrarium
Life Span 12-15 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 8-15 cm
Temperature 24-28 °C
Housing Size 60 x 60 x 50 cm
US Units
Size 3"-6"
Temperature 75-82 °F
Housing Size 25" x 25" x 20"

Distribution and habitat

The range of the diurnal to crepuscular Jewel Horned Frogs extends from southern Bolivia through western Paraguay and northern Argentina to the extreme SW of Brazil. They inhabit sparse forests, scrublands, and grassy steppes. There they live mostly well camouflaged except for the upper head and eyes burrowed in the ground lurking for prey.


For 1 animal, the minimum terrarium area is 3,600 cm² with a minimum effective height (measured without substrate) of 40 cm. This corresponds to a floor space of e.g. 60 x 60 cm. Keeping several animals in one terrarium outside the mating season should be avoided, as the animals are cannibalistic.

They need a loose, diggable substrate of a peat-sand-forest soil mixture (terrarium soil) of 15-20 cm depth as well as foliage, bark pieces and roots as hiding places. Potted plants that can be easily removed for cleaning as well as mosses are advantageous. A bathing opportunity must be offered, but the water level should not go above the animal's nostrils, as they are poor swimmers and could drown. Once a day the inside of the terrarium must be finely sprayed with water (humidity), but a rain or mist system is better.

Temp. day: 24-28 °C Temp. night: 20-22 °C Humidity: 60-80

Thermostatically controlled floor heating is recommended. The lighting duration must be 10-12 hours depending on the season. Daylight fluorescent tubes with low UV content are ideal.


Their diet consists of cockroaches, grasshoppers, crickets, mealybug and wax moth larvae, slugs, earthworms, and occasionally young mice, according to their size. They will try to eat anything that moves and fits in their mouths. Feeders that are too small are often spurned. Adults should be fed every 3-5 days, younger animals more frequently. It is important to add minerals and vitamins regularly (e.g. by dusting the feeders). The quality of the feeder insects can be enhanced by the addition of overripe fruit and honey water

A varied diet promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms.

Reproduction and breeding

Males remain much smaller than females and they have an outer sound bladder in the throat area that is speckled with dark spots. Summer dormancy is a prerequisite for successful breeding. In the following rainy season, the female ready to spawn is taken in the mating grip (amplexus) by the male and she lays several hundred, sometimes up to 2000 eggs in spawning balls freely in the water of temporary pools. The larvae hatch after one day and are cannibalistic like the parents. After about 30 to 90 days the transformation (metamorphosis) is completed and the young frogs, about 1.5 cm in size, leave the water.


For summer dormancy (dry dormancy), the temperature must be lowered to about 15 °C and the humidity reduced. They form a cocoon and burrow into the ground. During this time they must not be disturbed or fed. After 6-8 weeks, the temperature is raised again, humidity is increased to 80-95% (rainy season) and the frogs finish their summer dormancy

The terrarium must have good ventilation without drafts and meet the species specific needs. Measuring devices, such as thermometers, hygrometers, etc. are necessary. The lighting has to correspond to the species-specific day-night rhythm and has to be placed in such a way that the animals cannot injure themselves. The terrarium should be locked in such a way that neither unauthorized persons can open it nor the animals can escape. Special attention must be paid to thorough hygiene and impurities must be removed regularly.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Serena Werle; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: ENGELMANN (2006): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Reptilien und Amphibien, Harri Deutsch Verlag; VDA & DGHT (2006): Haltungsrichtlinien für die Haltung von Anuren

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF